Many black people found it hard to understand the big fuss over Reverend Wright’s comments. He didn’t really say much that was factually inaccurate (although of course people will debate his assertions on HIV) and to be honest he didn’t say much that many other black people have not said before. I guess what happened in this case is that stuff is that is usually said behind closed doors became public property. However, regardless of whether or not one agrees with Rev Wright, I’m glad that the wider public is now aware of some of the thoughts and feelings that some black people have about race.
I was pretty disgusted by the comments made by MSNBC political commentator Pat Buchanan in a blog post of his entitled “A Brief For Whitey”. A Brief For Whitey was his response to Obama’s speech on race. Buchanan wrote – in all seriousness – “…no people anywhere has done more to lift up blacks than white Americans. Untold trillions have been spent since the ’60s on welfare, food stamps, rent supplements, Section 8 housing, Pell grants, student loans, legal services, Medicaid, Earned Income Tax Credits and poverty programs designed to bring the African-American community into the mainstream“. He then goes on to ask “Where is the gratitude?”
I wanted to ask him “are you f***ing serious?! But you know what? Yes he is. And, just as Reverend Wright’s comments are representative of the thoughts and feelings of some of the African American community, Buchanan’s comments are also representative of the thoughts and feelings of some white people.
I don’t agree with Buchanan, but it’s important to hear what he has to say because it’s only once we are able to have really honest discussions about race – including hearing some of the viewpoints that we find offensive, extreme or even abhorrent – that change will really come.
Part of the problem with race-related discussions is that people do not feel able to say what they really want to say, and this leads to resentment. We don’t deal with race head on by tip toeing around the issue and only saying what people want to hear. I always say that I’m less afraid of people who are only openly racist than those who say they aren’t, but spout their bigoted views in private.
So let’s have more of this real talk. Let everyone get their real views off their chest and then let’s start addressing them.